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The Art of Constraints and Limitations

The Art of Constraints and Limitations

Back in 2017 when I met Spanish magician Mario Lopez in Barcelona, I found out that once a year Dani DaOrtiz together with a bunch of other magicians gather up at a cabin in the woods for a week, where they create magic, talk and hang out.

One of the things they like doing is setting themselves different limits and trying to create a magic trick within those boundaries (an example I can recall him telling me was having to vanish a playing card from the table without gimmicks and without lifting the card off the table).

Apparently, limitations are good for your creative mind! Buffer published an article about this in which they talk about the psychology of limitation and why constraints make us more creative.

Helen Wells, from hellenwellsartists, puts it beautifully when she talks about how it feels to have infinite possibilities and permutations when making art.

"We can make absolutely anything from anything, which is both a joy and sometimes the challenge. Limitless possibility can lead to option paralysis, when there are too many choices, starting becomes harder."

In an interview with Adobe about constraints, Brooklyn-based designer Damien Correll talks about how he finds [constraints] make the process a little more enjoyable and the final output is usually something he's more proud of.

If you're interested in these sort of stuff, a few notable projects to check out are: "Gadsby" by Ernest Vincent Wright, "Life: A Users Manual" by Georges Perec or "99 Ways to Tell a Story" a graphic novel by Matt Madden.

I've always been attracted to challenges and people doing them. The magic community has it's own share of wacky people trying out zany things. Either pulling off 365 Days of Magic like Eric Leclerc or Antonio Bourgeois or creating a card trick in one hour like Steven Bridges. Back in 2013 I tried creating magic for 24 hours straight without moving from my chair! You can check a small snippet of it in this video.

This challenge meant a lot to me (I would discover) as it was an opportunity to prove to myself that I could do something as 'crazy' as staying awake for 24 hours and create magic non-stop.

Besides the fact that a lot of good ideas came out of this marathon, I discovered that I loved doing challenging projects. The more challenging the better. I even ended up feeling that if it was not challenging, then why do it at all! 

When faced with a challenge created by yourself you are bound to evolve and get better. Not only as a magician but as an artist/human being as well.

So, my advice for you all reading this: set yourself a 'crazy' challenge and see how you can do it. Find the time, the place, the resources and make it happen. Once you complete it, the achievement will serve as fuel for future projects (be them magic wise or not).

What are some limits that you would like to see someone create or perform magic under?

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Landon w Stark - October 13, 2022

Great Article! Thanks for writing this, Biz!

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